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If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you may be using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to help you get a good night’s rest.
Traveling can be disruptive to your usual sleep patterns, so setting yourself up for the best possible sleeping conditions is especially important when you experience sleep apnea. You may be accustomed to your standard CPAP machine, but investing in one designed for travel can help make your next trip easier and more restful.
Designed to be portable, a travel CPAP machine is smaller and weighs less than a standard one. A travel CPAP machine isn’t just a small-scale version of a standard model, though, as it typically has extra features to facilitate easy travel both on the road and in the air. If you’re planning your next road trip, a travel CPAP machine may be plugged into a car’s auxiliary power outlet and run off its battery. CPAP travel machines are often compatible with DC cable converters, and the extended battery life makes them suitable for camping and other road excursions.
If you tend to travel by plane, many CPAP devices are TSA-friendly and FAA-approved for in-flight use. Their compact size simplifies packing, and they are easy enough to disassemble for shorter flights.
Considering their convenience and ability to improve sleep quality when away from home, a travel CPAP machine can be a valuable asset for your next getaway.
Who it’s best for:
- Shoppers looking for a quiet model
- Those seeking an exceptionally small-sized device
- Those who've had little success with standard CPAP models and require adjustable expiratory pressure relief (EPR)
- Compact design
- Waterless humidification
- AutoRamp technology adjusts pressure throughout the night
With a small footprint and streamlined design, the ResMed AirMini is an optimal CPAP device for travel. It's packed with plenty of features to benefit CPAP users without the bulk of a larger machine.
Weighing 10 ounces and with a small 20-watt AC power cord, the ResMed AirMini is a compact device that should easily fit into your travel bag. In addition to use on business trips and camping, this portable CPAP can be used on airplanes since it is FAA-approved for in-flight use.
What Does It Do?
The device automatically adjusts pressure based on your breathing, which may be beneficial for those who haven’t had success with standard CPAP machines. The ResMed AirMini also features AutoRamp technology. This helps you fall asleep by starting at a lower pressure and then automatically increasing to your designated setting once you’ve fallen asleep. The ResMed AirMini app allows you to track your sleep data and monitor up to 30 days worth of data. The app also detects mask leaks, helping to ensure that you stay CPAP-compliant.
Who It’s Best for
With ActiveAir technology, the ResMed AirMini’s operating sound is 25 to 27 decibels, which is quieter than a whisper. Its design decreases the likeliness of disturbing others while traveling. The ResMed AirMini’s HumidX offers the same humidifying benefits as standard CPAP machines, such as preventing a sore throat or dry nose, but doesn’t require water. As such, there’s no need for additional parts. Vented air is achieved by attaching a quarter-sized piece of material to the mask’s tubing.
The ResMed AirMini is compatible with the AirFit P10 Nasal Pillow, the F20 Full Face Mask, or the F30 Full Face Mask. ResMed HumidX cartridges should be replaced every 30 days and are only compatible with the N20 nasal mask and P10 nasal pillow mask. The ResMed AirMini is not returnable once opened or used, but it is backed by a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Transcend Micro Auto-CPAP Machine
Who it’s best for:
- People who need different pressure levels for inhalation and exhalation
- Frequent fliers
- Budget-conscious shoppers
- Lightweight and compact design is perfectly suited for travel
- Auto-ramp feature allows you to ease into your CPAP therapy
- “Drying mode” reduces condensation to help prevent rainout
The Transcend Micro Auto-CPAP Machine is a high-performance CPAP machine with a slew of features to help you sleep comfortably. The device is also exceptionally light and compact, making it a great option for frequent travelers.
Those who need to invest in a CPAP machine should expect to spend a decent amount of money on their purchase. While the Transcend Micro Auto-CPAP Machine isn’t exactly cheap, the device is more affordable than the vast majority of its competitors. Weighing less than half a pound and measuring less than 4 inches wide, the machine is also ideal for traveling — though it’s perfectly functional in your bedroom, as well.
What Does It Do?
The Transcend Micro Auto-CPAP can be programmed for pressure levels ranging from 4 to 20 cmH20. The machine will automatically adjust pressure delivery based on your breathing patterns, making it a good choice for people who need higher pressure when breathing in and lower pressure when exhaling. An auto-ramp feature gradually increases pressure levels as your therapy begins. You can also program the machine for “drying mode” to decrease condensation and minimize rainout, which can cause congestion. The device will function at altitudes up to 8,000 feet.
Who It’s Best for
The Micro Auto-CPAP lives up to its name as a CPAP machine suitable for therapy whether you’re in your bedroom or on the road. It’s lightweight and compact enough to fit in your luggage without taking up too much space, and should work properly when you’re mid-flight. The automatic adjustment and ramp features are beneficial if you struggle with a fixed pressure setting. Those who frequently feel congested after CPAP therapy should also find relief thanks to the drying mode option.
The Transcend Micro Auto-CPAP qualifies for free shipping when you order from Singular Sleep. The device is backed by a 30-night trial period and a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Best Travel Bundle
ResMed AirMini Premium Battery Bundle
Who it’s best for:
- Shoppers who need multiple CPAP supplies
- People who frequently travel for work
- Value seekers
- Affordable bundle includes CPAP machine, mask, battery, and cleaning solution
- All items form a collectively lightweight travel kit
- 30-night trial and 2-year warranty
The ResMed AirMini Premium Battery Bundle is a perfect choice for CPAP users seeking the convenience and cost benefits of an all-in-one package. The AirMini is an excellent travel-friendly option, and it's bundled with accessories that are 100% compatible.
In addition to the travel-friendly ResMed AirMini CPAP machine, the Premium Battery Bundle from ResMed includes other essential items for CPAP therapy. Those who need accessories along with their machine but are shopping with somewhat limited budgets should definitely consider this bundle.
What Does It Do?
The ResMed AirMini is a good alternative to conventional CPAP machines, since it adjusts pressure according to your breathing throughout the night. The AutoRamp technology also starts at a low pressure setting then automatically increases to a preset level after you’re asleep. In addition to the AirMini, this bundle includes other supplies that CPAP users typically need. The bundle comes with a battery, your choice of mask, and advanced cleaning solution so that you won’t need to purchase each item individually.
Who It’s Best for
Customers can choose their mask from ResMed’s AirFit family, which includes dozens of models with full-face, nasal, and nasal pillow designs. They’ll also receive a portable battery with a run time of 8 hours on average. The battery requires roughly 3 hours to recharge. Lastly, the bundle’s Sleep8 CPAP Cleaner features a filter bag for all-inclusive cleaning and an activated oxygen sanitization system that doesn’t use harsh chemicals or water to sterilize the equipment. The Sleep8 comes with a remote that displays a countdown for full cleaning cycles and issues alerts if an error occurs.
The bundle may be returned within 30 days of the original order. Those who keep their CPAP components also receive a 2-year warranty. Shipping rates vary by location.
How to Choose a Travel CPAP Machine
Traveling does not necessarily require that you purchase a travel CPAP machine, however the portability of a travel CPAP device can be a real asset. When shopping for a travel CPAP machine, it’s important to look for a model that offers the same therapeutic benefits as your standard device. You’ll want to make sure that the machine is small and light enough to be portable, and if you travel by air, is FAA-compliant.
Your travel CPAP machine should have integrated or stand-alone power options, and support both U.S. and international power outlets if needed. Decibel range is another key factor to consider, as the lower the number, the quieter the machine will be, decreasing the odds of bothering you or any travel partners.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Travel CPAP Machine
In order to help ensure that your CPAP therapy while on-the-go is fully compliant and beneficial, there are a number of factors to pay attention to when shopping for your travel CPAP machine. Your unique sleeping habits and health profile, as well as your doctor’s recommendations, will also determine the best fit. Some important considerations are climate control, pressure range, ramp options, sound level, and data tracking. We’ll explore these areas and other important factors so you can make an informed decision.
CPAP machines are considered Class II medical devices and therefore require a prescription from your doctor. Your sleep specialist or doctor may recommend a certain mask model, and you’ll want to double check that this mask type is compatible with your travel CPAP machine. If your mask is ill-fitting or uncomfortable, your doctor can suggest a more appropriate design.
There are different machine types when it comes to treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and they vary in terms of pressure delivery. APAP, standing for auto-adjustable positive airway pressure, offers different pressure rates while you sleep. A BiPAP machine, which stands for bi-level positive airway pressure, features two pressure settings: one for inhalation (IPAP), and a second for exhalation (EPAP).
CPAP machines are the most popular for treating OSA and provide continuous positive airway pressure to help individuals breathe throughout the night. CPAPs can have either fixed pressure or an auto-adjust mechanism.
A humidifier is one of the most commonly added comfort features for CPAP machines since it can help prevent a sore throat and/or dry nose. Humidifiers can be especially useful when traveling to dry climates.
Humidifiers may be built-in (internal) or an outside component (external). Some travel CPAPs utilize built-in humidifiers to reduce bulk, while others have waterless humidifiers for convenience. If using water, a travel CPAP humidifier may have a small heating tube to keep the water warm while the air travels from the water chamber up to the mask.
Optimal pressure will largely depend on your unique sleep and health needs, but default CPAP machine pressure settings typically range from 4 to 20 centimeters of water (cm H2O), with 10 being the average pressure value. Be sure to consult your doctor or medical specialist if you have any questions about your ideal pressure range.
Travel CPAP machines with ramp features mean that your machine will start with lower pressure to assist you in falling asleep and then gradually increase to the range needed to prevent your upper airway from collapsing once you’ve fallen asleep.
It’s important to note the decibel rating of a CPAP machine, as one that is high might be too noisy and disturb you and your partner. An average CPAP machine range is between 20 and 30 decibels, with 30 being the equivalent of a whisper.
CPAP machines with a data tracking app are useful because you can monitor your therapeutic progress and make adjustments as necessary. Some devices can store your data history for a period of time, which can then be communicated to your healthcare provider.
Many travel CPAP machines come with add-on options, such as external humidifiers, integrated batteries, and travel cases. Replacement parts like disposable masks or tubing can also be purchased separately.
If you’ve found a brand that works well for you, it’s likely that the travel version by the same manufacturer will also be a good fit.
If you plan to travel by plane, make sure to look for a travel CPAP that is FAA-approved for in-flight use.
Travel CPAP machines can range from around $450 to over $1,200 and are not usually covered by insurance. Travel models are often more expensive than standard models, and because some brands don’t allow returns once opened, it’s important to make sure you find the most appropriate fit before purchasing.
Most travel CPAP machines have a 2- or 3-year warranty, but the former is more common.
How to Buy a CPAP Machine for Travel
Determining the most compatible portable CPAP machine for your lifestyle is important, as maintaining sleep apnea therapy while traveling is just as critical as when you’re at home. Getting quality sleep can also help make your travel more enjoyable.
There are certain considerations to keep in mind when purchasing a CPAP machine for travel, such as prescription requirements, doctor recommendations, health insurance, and potential accessories. We’ll highlight these factors as they relate to purchasing a travel CPAP machine.
Because CPAP machines are considered a Class II medical device, a formal prescription from a doctor is required in order to purchase one. When purchasing online, you can either upload your prescription upon checkout, or email it shortly after placing your order.
Depending on your health profile, CPAP therapy may not be the most appropriate fit for you. It’s important to consult your doctor about other types of therapy for sleep apnea (such as BiPAP and APAP machines), as well as alternative treatment options before making a purchase. Doctors may be able to recommend a specific product based on your history and needs.
Travel CPAP machines are less likely to be covered by insurance than standard models since they are often considered non-essential. It’s always worth inquiring with your medical provider, however. These types of devices are typically listed under the “Durable Medical Equipment” category under insurance benefits. If you discover that you will have to pay either partially or completely out of pocket, research your options before purchasing, as some manufacturers won’t allow returns once your order has been opened or used.
Travel CPAP accessories range from being unnecessary to useful. A travel case for your machine might be a convenient add-on, but since travel CPAPs are compact anyhow, they generally fit easily into most suitcases or travel bags. On the other hand, the most essential add-ons for a CPAP product are masks and headgear, as these aren’t usually included with the machine. Depending on compatibility, you may be able to use the mask from your standard, at-home model, but if not, be sure to order a suitable mask along with your travel CPAP machine.
For models without internal humidifiers, it might be worthwhile to invest in an external humidifier, particularly if you’re traveling to a dry climate. These start around $150, while models with built-in humidifiers have chambers that typically need to be replaced every 30 days and cost about $30.
Integrated batteries may also be purchased separately and are priced at around $300. This could be a helpful accessory if you enjoy camping or other excursions in which power outlets are not readily available.
Disposable filters are an essential add-on since they keep your CPAP machine functioning optimally. Depending on the brand and quantity included in a pack, individual filters can range anywhere from $3 to $5. Lastly, replacement tubing, USB cables, and adaptors may be purchased separately if lost or worn.
Where to Buy
You may be able to purchase a travel CPAP directly through your doctor or sleep specialist. Rentals and purchases are also possible at sleep clinics. If you are confident that a model is the right fit, you can purchase it online directly from the retailer or manufacturer.
How to Travel with a CPAP Machine
Traveling can be stressful and full of unexpected surprises, so it’s helpful to be as prepared as possible. When it comes to your portable CPAP machine, there are certain factors that you should keep in mind before embarking on a journey, whether brief or extended. Make a packing checklist in advance that includes adaptors, disposable filters, international converters if applicable, disinfectants, and an extra mask just in case.
In the event of air travel, it’s wise to contact the airline in advance to make sure that there aren’t any specific CPAP machine requirements that you’ll need to follow. For example, some carriers might want to check your model and verify its compliance. It’s also wise to have a copy of your prescription on hand in case TSA requires validation during check-in. Because your mini CPAP machine will be subject to the same security measures as other carry-on items, keep your machine in a clear plastic bag, as this will help keep it sanitary when placed in the screening bin.
If you plan on using your travel CPAP machine on the plane, make sure to purchase a few bottles of distilled water for cleaning and refilling your humidifier after you’ve cleared security (unless you have a waterless humidifier). Once you’ve boarded the plane, check for power outlets near your seat.
Ground travel typically isn’t as complicated as flying, but there are still factors to consider when bringing your mini CPAP machine. If you’re planning a camping trip or won’t have regular access to a power outlet, you might consider investing in an overnight or extended battery.
Regardless of the nature of your getaway, it’s crucial that you have the means to properly clean your CPAP machine.
Frequently Asked Questions About Travel CPAP Machines
We’ll address the most common questions that arise when it comes to travel CPAP machines, including cost, insurance coverage, air travel, and cleaning maintenance.
How much do travel CPAP machines cost?
Travel CPAP machines can range anywhere from $450 to $1,200, but the average cost is around $800. The average price-point is similar to that of a standard CPAP machine.
Does insurance cover mini CPAP machines?
Many insurance plans will not cover the cost of mini CPAP machines because they are considered more of a luxury item. Some insurance plans, however, will provide partial reimbursement or ask you to rent the machine. When compared to standard CPAP machines, insurance companies are less likely to provide full or even partial coverage, but you should inquire with your specific plan before making a purchase.
Can I use my regular CPAP mask with my new travel CPAP?
Some brands are more versatile than others when it comes to mask compatibility. If your travel CPAP machine is made by the same manufacturer as your standard machine, you may be able to use your regular mask. Some devices only work with one specific type of mask, however, so always check the product details to confirm before making a purchase.
Can I use a travel CPAP on an airplane?
As long as your travel CPAP machine is FAA-approved for in-flight use, you can use the machine while on an airplane. With that said, it’s wise to contact your airline carrier in advance to make sure that they don’t have any special requirements concerning CPAP machines. Many models also have FAA-compliant rechargeable lithium batteries for uninterrupted power. The Department of Transportation specifies that those with sleep apnea do not have to count their CPAP equipment as one of their carry-on items.
Can I use a travel CPAP all the time?
Traditionally it wasn’t advisable to use your portable CPAP machine on a daily basis, as most didn’t have humidifiers like standard machines and weren’t designed for long-term daily use. There are, however, some newer, sturdier travel CPAPs that have humidifiers similar to standard models and are more suitable for regular use. With that said, it’s best to reserve your portable CPAP machine for travel use only, replacing it approximately every 3 to 5 years to ensure optimal performance.
Are there travel BiPAPs or travel APAP machines?
CPAP machines are more predominantly used for travel, but there are a few compact BiPAP and APAP machine designs. They might be more difficult to obtain, however, due to their comparative rarity.
How do I clean my CPAP?
Maintaining your CPAP’s cleanliness is critical, as this can help prevent allergies, sinus infections, and other pathogen-related illnesses. Regularly cleaning your CPAP machine will also preserve the machine’s overall integrity, but it’s essential that you refer to your model’s particular user manual, as there might be cleaning requirements specific to your CPAP machine.
Always make sure your CPAP is unplugged before cleaning any parts. It’s best to disinfect your CPAP components in the morning, so they will be clean and dry for use at night. The tube and humidifier chamber are especially prone to mold contamination or mineral deposits when not fully aired out.
Your mask should be cleaned daily, as this removes oils and possible pathogens. You can hand wash the mask with mild soap in warm water. Harsh soaps or detergents should be avoided, as they could damage the mask’s silicone.
The humidifier chamber, reusable filters, and hose should be cleaned at least once a week by soaking them in warm water with mild soap for 30 minutes. Soapy water should also be cycled through the tubing before rinsing. Distilled water is best since it prevents mineral buildup, but this may not always be possible while traveling. If calcium does accumulate in the tube or humidifier chamber, soaking the parts in vinegar and scrubbing the deposits can help to remove them.
Once the components have been rinsed, let them air dry on a clean towel or by hanging them on a shower rod. For the body of your CPAP machine, use a damp cloth on the exterior to remove any dust or debris, following up with a clean cloth or paper towel to dry it fully.
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